Glare on Frankenstein cells

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  • Published 30.05.10

Rajabandh, May 29: Yesterday’s tracks sabotage was carried out by young hotheads from “village defence squads” whom the Maoists had trained but are struggling to control now, police and rebel sources said today.

An officer said these youths, mostly aged between 15 and 25, lack discipline and often act on their own. “They have become a Frankenstein’s monster that the Maoists can no longer control.”

“We have little control over these village defence squad members,” a CPI (Maoist) source told The Telegraph, adding that these “illiterate” youths were turning into an embarrassment for the rebels with their “whimsical ways”.

Fearful of a public backlash, the Maoist leadership is eager to distance itself from the Jnaneswari Express attack and had been prompt yesterday to deny any role.

The Maoist source acknowledged that the rebel leadership had issued a general order for tracks sabotage but blamed the village youths for mindlessly targeting a passenger train.

“If we could monitor the sabotage, we would have damaged the tracks only after gathering information about all the trains passing on that route. We have generally targeted goods trains. But these boys did not apply their brains as most of them are illiterate,” said the source, a leader of the Maoists’ Bengal-Jharkhand-Orissa regional committee.

A Jhargram police officer said the Maoists had travelled from village to village early last year, about two months after the tribal movement began in West Midnapore’s forests, and formed these gram suraksha bahinis.

“They recruited youths and gave them a four-month crash course on how to plant and detonate improvised mines. They were taught to remove Pandrol clips and fish plates from tracks and even to cut their way through barbed wire,” a police source said.

The village boys were also trained to use improvised guns so they could resist the entry of security forces during last year’s police boycott. But the Maoists gradually lost control over these youths, state intelligence officials said.

The Maoist leader admitted this. He said it was not possible to maintain regular contact with these boys because their villages were located in remote forest areas.

“We don’t maintain contact over the mobile for fear of interception; we only do so through couriers. Four days ago we had conveyed our decision to strike at government property, including the railways, as part of our ‘black week’ that began yesterday,” the Maoist leader said.

“The village defence squad members of Rajabandh and neighbouring Burimole and Sardiha were asked to sabotage railway tracks. But we never meant to target passenger trains. These youths are ignorant about our ways.”

He said the youths, who come from very poor families, had become over-enthusiastic and reckless after receiving training and arms.

An officer, however, said this was inevitable considering the way the Maoists had trained them.

“The Maoists never gave them lessons on ideology and trained them to follow orders without reasoning. So, when they received the instruction, they went and sabotaged the tracks without considering the backlash that targeting a passenger train could bring,” the officer said.

West Midnapore superintendent of police Manoj Verma said: “Most of the strikes and acts of sabotage are carried out by these local units. In the recent past, we have arrested several young villagers with improvised arms who are part of these units.”